North Pacific beaches – Where to go and what to do.

By Silvanna Pacheco, November 3rd, 2023

Costa Rica’s North Pacific Coast, or Guanacaste, is well known for its natural beauty, warm waters and great weather and offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors. Here are some of the most popular North Pacific beaches you can explore on your next trip to Costa Rica:

Playa Tamarindo: Tamarindo is a lively town with a long beach known for its excellent surfing conditions. Visitors find the many restaurants, bars and shops lovely. This beach is blessed with a mangrove – line estuary that protects many animals such as howler monkeys and crocodiles.

Playa Flamingo:  This beach is small but known for its white sand and clear blue waters.  Some of the best deep sea fishing in the world is found here. You can also enjoy scuba diving which is available all year round. The Flamingo Marina is the best marina in the country offering state of the art facilities and world class restaurants.

Playa Conchal: This beach has a unique crushed shell sand like no other in Costa Rica. Tucked away in a private cove, it offers calm and clear waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. 

Playas del Coco: This is the oldest beach community in Guanacaste and a preferred destination for locals. Playas del Coco has become a center for tourism and business.  It is a great destination if you want to go diving and sportfishing. 

Playa Ocotal: Ocotal is a small and serene village protected by hills and cliffs.  Its beach has volcanic black sands and  bright blue waters making it one of the best spots for snorkeling and diving. The waters are calm making it a great beach for swimming too.

Potrero. Photo by Chalo Garcia.

Playa Potrero: This beach has a friendly local atmosphere. It’s a great place for a quiet getaway and has several restaurants and bars. Potrero is great for swimming, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Its a laid-back beach with a growing expat community.

Playa Avellanas: Avellanas is another great surf destination with a chilled-out vibe. With its beautiful surroundings, it is a great beach to enjoy a great sunset. 

Photo by Delphine Beausoleil

Playa Grande:  Home to Las Baulas National Marine Park, Grande is the second largest nesting site for Leatherback Sea turtles in the world. Turtle season goes from October to March. Another main attraction is its excellent surf breaks and peaceful beach perfect for enjoying long walks. Grande has remained a small community thanks to its large amount of conservation land that restricts growth. 

Playa Langosta: Located just 2 minutes away from Tamarindo, it is the perfect destination for experienced surfers looking for a more chill atmosphere and quieter option than Tamarindo. You can enjoy long walks on the beach and great sunsets. 

Playa Langosta. Photo by Cristina Victoria.

Playa Ostional: This beach is protected by the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. Every year, from July to November, thousands of Olive Ridley turtles arrive to lay their eggs into the volcanic, black sand. The Refuge protects 238 hectares including 15 kms of beach. Ostional is also known for having great surfing.

Playa Nosara: Here, you will experience an area untouched by tourism where most businesses are locally owned. No big hotels or stores! Nosara offers excellent opportunities for surfing and yoga, the two most popular activities in the area. The beach also features beautiful coral reefs and mangroves. 

Playa Ostional. Photo by Daniel Lloyd.

These are just a few of the stunning beaches you can find in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The region’s diverse coastal landscapes offer something special for every type of visitor, whether you’re into water sports, relaxation or exploration.

While in Guanacaste you will also have the opportunity to enjoy the local culture. This province takes pride in its distinct cultural heritage and traditions. Before the arrival of Spanish colonizers, this region was inhabited by the Chorotega tribe. Their influence can still be seen in some of the region’s traditions and pieces of art like pottery and woodwork.

Sabanero. Photo by Miguel Bruna.

Guanacaste also has a long history of cattle ranching and agriculture. The “sabanero” or cowboy culture is an integral part of the province’s history and identity. You can see this influence in their traditional clothing, music and the annually famous rodeo events. 

Ultimately, the best thing about Guanacaste depends on your personal preferences and interests, but its natural beauty, beaches and welcoming culture makes it a very popular destination for travelers looking to experience the best of Costa Rica.